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Old November 2, 2012, 09:15 PM   #25
JohnKSa
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Join Date: February 12, 2001
Location: DFW Area
Posts: 18,192
There was a time I detail stripped and thoroughly cleaned a firearm every time I got it home from the range.

Rimfires would only get cleaned every 500 rounds or so, but it was a thorough cleaning.

After years of that approach, I decided that I was probably doing more harm than good by detail stripping the guns each time they were fired and scaled back to detail stripping centerfires after a decent round count but still doing a field strip & cleaning after every range trip.

Rimfires stopped getting a detail strip & clean unless there were functioning issues and I stopped cleaning every 500 rounds and let it go a little longer.

There were no detectable ill effects as a result of those changes.

I finally realized that it wasn't hurting my guns to have a little bit of gunpowder residue on them from time to time and now I only clean after the round count has run up past a couple hundred rounds. If I do a quick 1 or 2 box range trip, I won't clean and if I follow that trip up with another similar trip I probably still won't clean unless I get bored. Detail strip & cleanings happen pretty rarely.

I've just about stopped cleaning my rimfires unless I note accuracy or function issues (which almost never happens). Usually I end up cleaning them because I get bored and want to fiddle with a gun.

I have actually had a gun get so dirty it started jamming, but that was after over 950 rounds in a single range session and even then it only jammed under one pretty specific set of circumstances. I've had several that shot reliably even when impressively dirty. I bought one used gun a few years back and took it to the range without cleaning it. It worked very well--in spite of the fact that when I got it home and cleaned it I found that it was very dirty. I even found leaf fragments in the action that had been left there by the previous owner.

I have witnessed a couple of situations where a gun jammed as an indirect result of being cleaned. In both cases the guns had been thoroughly cleaned but hadn't been properly lubricated after cleaning.

I'd say that given the human error component that can't be totally eliminated, cleaning (and the associated issues that go along with it like: improper reassembly, disassembly/reassembly wear, improper lubrication after cleaning, solvent in the wrong places, etc.) is probably more likely to result in malfunctions than lack of cleaning, certainly in the short term. As the round count without cleaning grows, at some point that probably ceases to be true.

Should go without saying, but I'll say it anyway--I'm NOT talking about black powder firearms or the use of corrosive ammunition. Those both demand prompt and proper attention after a range trip to prevent damage to the firearm.
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